May 29, 2013

Roadrunners are game, but opponents needed

Devin Golden
devingolden@daltoncitizen.com

— The Dalton State College men’s basketball program will have a busy summer as the program prepares to return to the court after an absence of several decades.

With the upcoming season just five months away, the Roadrunners must fill a full schedule while continuing to recruit players for their roster.

Two other sports starting during the next school year’s first semester — men’s and women’s cross country and women’s volleyball — already have schedules and rosters posted on the school’s athletics website, dsroadrunners.com.

However, athletic director Derek Waugh said scheduling opponents is “more tenuous” with basketball than other sports because the process is dependent on other schools’ conference schedules and their non-conference opponents, which are already set.

Dalton State didn’t announce it would relaunch its intercollegiate athletics program until late in 2011. Waugh was hired in early 2012, former Roadrunner Tony Ingle was hired as men’s basketball coach last summer and the school was accepted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in April. However, the school won’t officially be an NAIA member until Aug. 1, and the Roadrunners don’t yet have a conference home, although they expect to join either the Appalachian Athletic Conference or the Southern States Athletic Conference.

“We’ve been in discussions with both conferences,” Waugh added. “Nothing is confirmed with either yet, and it’s just a matter of timing. Also the state has to OK us joining a conference. So we’re going through that procedure right now.”

Ingle said some of the games aren’t set but “as of now” the first home game is scheduled for Nov. 7 versus Hiwassee College of Madisonville, Tenn. The basketball season will begin in late October or early November.

Ingle said the program has 10 players, including Northwest Whitfield High School graduate O’Shea Hill, for the upcoming season. Hill is the lone freshman while there are two sophomores and the rest juniors.

“I can’t have just freshmen, and I can’t have just juniors,” Ingle said. “We’ve got a good group, and it’s a good start for the program.”

However, the months of June and July are important for recruiting.

“You can get kids who have already been to college and may transfer (in the summer) to other schools,” Ingle said.

FIRST UP: While the volleyball season begins in August, what was planned as the first home game may be pushed back to later than planned.

According to the school’s athletics website, on Aug. 20 the Roadrunners travel to Central, S.C., to face Southern Wesleyan University. The first home match is listed as Sept. 5 versus the College of Coastal Georgia, but Waugh said that won’t happen due to Bandy Gymnasium’s renovation not being complete in time.

“The volleyball schedule is unfortunately going to change,” he said. “The Bandy Gym project is taking longer than expected.”

Waugh declined to say what the problem was. The project was supposed to be completed in August and now most likely won’t be done until September.

Of the 22 volleyball matches listed on the Dalton State athletics website, eight will be in Dalton. The program’s players include 2012 Dalton High School graduate Katie Curtin.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams’ seasons begin Aug. 31 at the Berry Invitational in Rome. The teams currently have six meets scheduled. The men’s team includes Northwest graduates Brody and Parker Cook, along with North Murray graduates Isaac and Rafael Pacheco. The women’s team includes Northwest graduate Maggie Kalafut.

“Recruiting certainly isn’t done but I give our coaches a tremendous amount of credit for filling their rosters,” Waugh said.

Practices for both sports begin Aug. 1.

GOLF SIGNEE: Also set to begin competition next school year are the men’s and women’s golf teams. LaFayette’s Levi Nix, 20, has become the second men’s golfer to sign with the Roadrunners, according to a release from the school.

Following a year at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain, Nix said he decided to attend Dalton State because “it is a quality school, close to home, has my major (marketing) and will now have golf.”  

Ben Rickett, Dalton State’s director of golf, is glad to have him on board.

“I am very excited about adding Levi to the program,” Rickett said in the release. “He is a very talented golfer who will be an asset to this program both on and off the golf course.”

Nix is a Chattanooga District Golf Association champion, a qualifier for the National Christian College Athletic Association tournament in Panama City Beach, Fla., was on an NCAA Division III all-region team and an eight-time tournament winner.  

The newest Roadrunner was home schooled before attending Covenant, where he had a 3.5 GPA. He is the son of Vicki and Ray Nix. He has three brothers — Daniel, 28, Seth, 26, and Nathan, 23.